Lance, Done With It...
I believe it was someone given the nickname the Great Deceiver who said something to the effect, "well, here we go again." The sport of cycling, once again finds itself in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. In a statement released by Lance Armstrong yesterday (read Armstrong's entire statement here.) I see an individual who has come to the realization that no matter what he says there will always be doubters, detractors will always be willing to take their shot. Consider two or more people debating a point; the arguing goes on for minutes, maybe hours, until they realize they are getting nowhere. They agree to disagree, and move on. Now, expand that debate to years, and you have the Armstrong controversy. Yes, I would be ready to move on as well. At this point you believe him, or you don't. There are more important things to devote his time and energies to, and it is time to move on.
Let the mainstream media focus on Lance and what happens to all those victories and Tour titles. Like Lance, I am going to move on. Why? Because I see bigger issues at stake here. Larger than Lance Armstrong, larger than the Tour de France. Does, or should, the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) possess the authority to strip a cyclist of victories acquired outside the Olympic arena. Lets not overlook the fact that the USADA is charged with managing the anti-doping program for U.S. Olympic, Paralympic, Pan-American, ParaPan American sport, and only in those areas. No where do I see it written that the USADA has authority outside those specific areas. I can't imagine cycling's international governing body, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) permitting a nationally based agency the authority to supersede it's own governing right. Yet that appears to be what is taking place.
The USADA, or its international "counterpart", WADA, should exist in a support role, not in an authority role. Their job should be to gather and present evidence of wrong-doing to cycling's national and international governing bodies; it is those latter agencies who should be responsible for determining guilt, or innocence , and setting consequences. Of course for this organization of authority to be effective there needs to exist a confidence in the ability of these organizations to perform their duties, and I am not sure that condition has existed for some time now. What I do feel confident of is that decisions concerning the internal regulation of the sport need to be determined within the sport, not from anywhere, or anyone, outside it.
If anything good comes of this mess, if Travis Tygart and the USADA successfully strip Armstrong of his Tour titles, the resulting chaos (does anyone really believe the move will resolve the drug use controversy, or that it won't open up an entirely new can of worms) will hopefully, and finally, force an examination of the structure and authority of the sport, and bring about a stronger, more coherent organization. Contrary to what some may read in Armstrong's statement, the house is still smoldering, and someone mistook the pail of water for one filled with lighter fluid. The poster shown above says Hope Rides Again. Hope, it is all that is left really - hope for a better future of the sport.